How You Could Be Charged With A DWI By Sitting Or Sleeping In Your Parked Car

Lawmakers and law enforcers are coming down harder on drunk drivers. In December, New Jersey became the 34th state to require first-time drunk driving offenders to use an ignition interlock device. If you get caught driving while intoxicated (DWI), you may find yourself facing tougher laws. You could even be charged with DWI while sitting or sleeping in a parked car. 

Removing the Fudge Factor 

Ignition interlock programs have reduced repeat drunk driving offenses by an impressive 70 percent. Behavioral scientists say the in-car breathalyzer programs work because they remove what they call the fudge factor from the decision of whether or not to drive while drunk. A fudge factor is an ad hoc element added to a solution in order to make it fit the desired outcome. 

In the case of the drunk driver, he wants to drive, so he makes the calculation that he is not drunk, perhaps a bit tipsy, but not drunk enough to blow over .08 on a breathalyzer test. By requiring a driver to take a breathalyzer to start the car engine, he cannot fudge his alcohol blood level. 

Sitting in a Car While Drunk 

But of greater concern to drunk drivers is what constitutes a drunk driving offense in New Jersey. According to a recent ruling of a New Jersey appellate panel, if you've had a few drinks, you can no longer sit in your car to dry out. If you are sitting in your car and blow over .08, you can be charged with a drunk driving offense. 

It should be clarified, though, that the defendant in the above case was sleeping at the wheel with his car running in front of a 7/11. Following earlier rulings in which DWI attorneys successfully defended the sleeping drivers, more and more drivers caught drunk behind the wheel were pleading the sleeping driver defense.

Will other states get tougher on drunk drivers?

A sobering statistic is shining a harsher light on drunk driving. Of all U.S. fatalities caused by drunk drivers, 15 percent of the drivers blew below the .08 limit on breathalyzer tests, found researchers. The finding strengthens the argument of the National Transportation Safety Board that the drunk driving threshold should be lowered to .05. 

What's clear by these decisions is that lawmakers and courts are doing more to deter drunk driving. If you've been charged with a drunk driving offense, a DWI lawyer can help you regain your license and, if required, address any orders to install an ignition interlock device.